When you walk through the doors of Vicia in the Cortex District in the Central West End you feel like you are instantly transported to some place much cooler. Don't get me wrong. you all KNOW I'm obsessed with St. Louis, and for those of us that know, we're well aware our food scene can rival that of many major metropolitan cities, but lots of people still underestimate us. We're the David of the story (as in verses Goliath...).
Well they shouldn't. And they definitely shouldn't after they eat at Vicia. I'm splitting this into two posts (at this writing I still haven't yet been for dinner) because the lunch service verse dinner service has a different vibe. Lunch is counter service and meant to get the busy tech folks of the Cortex District (and everyone else coming to dine at the most anticipated restaurant of the year) in and out quick. I went to one of the pop-ups hosted by husband and wife duo behind Vicia so I was excited to see it all in action once they opened. Tara Gallina is the general manager, while her husband and St. Louis native, Michael Gallina is the master mind behind the incredible food coming out of the open kitchen. And let me just say, you could not ask for a nicer couple, every time I've been to a pop-up or the restaurant, they have both been beyond gracious and you can tell they have a passion for what they do. Some people could easily be intimidated by their concept of "vegetable-forward" cuisine, but they (as well as the rest of the wonderful staff) will walk you through everything.
The food is simple, yet stunningly creative. A simple carrot soup is illuminated with a multitude of flavors, each dish bursting with surprises in texture and taste. On the lunch menu you can pick two or three of the five items on the menu. It rotates with ingredients, and let me be the first to say, do not be overwhelmed by the idea of a more vegetable-centric menu. I am a burger girl through and through but the way Vicia treats and handles vegetables is an art. But for your meat fill. do not miss the sandwich on focaccia bread made in-house, topped with salami, mustard and a spicy touch of arugula.
To end an already delicious meal, do not miss the pastries. More specifically, do not miss the chocolate chip cookie. The perfect ratio of crunchy outside, with a soft and almost gooey inside, sprinkled with the perfect amount of sea salt Its truly heaven in dessert form.
The space is as equally stunning as the food, simple yet elegant. There's a patio with a huge wood-fired grill that I can't wait to spend many summer nights on sipping cocktails. This is a restaurant that many could say wouldn't do well in the ole' Midwest, it's too froofroo (sp?), not enough meat, blah blah blah. But let me tell you, from the looks of the crowds, this place is a hit and I can't wait for everyone to see the cool factor they are adding to the neighborhood.
Have you been to Vicia? I'd love to hear what you had! And what you thought! Let me know in the comments.
Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find a behind the scenes look at the day-to-day life of a TV news reporter. I have a love for food, traveling and all things St. Louis. This is a place for me to write a bit more about my passions.